Troy University’s Institute for Leadership Development hosted the Henry County Youth Leadership Program Thursday, Oct. 21 for a day of leadership development on the Troy Campus.
The group of about 17 high school juniors and seniors from schools in Henry County were welcomed to campus by Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.
“What’s your favorite four-letter word,” Dr. Hawkins asked the students amid some chuckles from the crowd.
“Food,” one participant responded.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve ever gotten that answer,” Hawkins said. “I think my favorite is ‘TROY’ but I want to talk to you about a different one today: Lead.”
The Chancellor went on to speak about the essential elements of leadership, pointing out that “leading from the front” was essential and that the “little people” are the ones who make leaders successful.
“Leadership isn’t about how close your parking space is to the building or your name on the wall. You need to treat those below you with respect because they are the people who will determine your success and who are the closest to the problems that need to be solved,” he said. “Listen to those closest to the problem and often you will find the solution in what they tell you.”
Hawkins went on to explain that “E” should remind the students of the importance of a leader to set the example.
“St. Francis of Assisi said ‘Always preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary.’ Your actions will speak louder than words, and people will follow the example set by a leader,” he said.
Attitude, Hawkins related, was essential to achieving success in leadership, and said that a positive attitude is often more important than qualifications. The attitude exhibited by those in leadership positions often temper the attitudes of others around them.
Finally, Hawkins talked about the fourth element of “Lead” – direction.
“It was that great philosopher Yogi Berra who said ‘If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.’ While you may change directions from time to time, you have to develop a plan on where you are headed,” he said. “. . . your ‘way out of the woods’ is education. The more education you have, the more options you have in life.”
Following the welcoming remarks, the class attended several lectures throughout the day, including hearing from Troy University Trustee Charles Nailen, who lectured the Leadership Institute’s Capstone Course on the subject of “leadership lessons learned while running a marathon.”
Nailen and his wife Kay owned and operated a chain of southeast Alabama-area Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2003. In 2018, he was inducted into the Dothan Business Hall of Fame. Currently the couple manages Nailen Properties and Nailen Lands.
Changing out of a coat and tie in front of the class, Nailen, dressed underneath in running shorts and long-sleeved t-shirt, told the class that he wanted them to remember him.
“You hear from guys in suits and ties all the time, but I bet you will always remember the guy who dressed as a marathon runner,” he quipped. He reinforced the concept by supplying the class with tacos from Taco Bell.
Henry County Youth Leadership Program is an annual program to identify emerging leaders and help train them. Participants are taught leadership skills while learning about various government, economic and social sectors of the community.